Angie's List Report: Tips for first-time home buyers

There may never be a better time to buy a home. It's a buyer's market and the government has really sweetened the pot, but time is running out.

The first-time home buyer's credit is huge, and it’s not just for first time buyers. If you haven't owned a home in three years, you can get this $8,000 credit from the government. However, you must have a signed contract to buy a home by April 30th of this year.
This is a great deal, but it shouldn't be the only reason to take the plunge into home ownership.

Lisa Galloway is the proud owner of her first home, and her timing couldn't have been better.

With the bursting of the real estate bubble, home prices have gone down. Plus, there's that incentive from Uncle Sam.

"The reason why I decided this was a great time is the market for buying a home is excellent right now because the houses are going for pretty cheap and the of course, the $8,000 tax credit,” says Lisa.

But lower home prices and the first time home buyer's credit doesn't necessarily mean buying a home is right for you, right now. There are other factors.

"Before you start looking for a home, the first thing you need to do is to get comfortable with the cost of the home. Talk to a mortgage broker and find out how much you're going to be eligible for when it comes to a mortgage so you know what kind of down payment you're going to have. Don't forget to factor in the cost of homeowner's insurance, maintenance, and utilities so you don't overextend yourself,” says Angie Hicks, consumer expert.

First time home buyers are advised to work with seasoned realtors and mortgage brokers. After all, this will likely be the most important purchase of your life.

"My mortgage broker helped me out a ton. Going into this, being a first time home buyer, I had no idea even what some of the terms were, like what I needed to do, what all the paperwork meant, what I needed,” says Lisa.

Before you take that first step from renter to homeowner ask yourself: "What do I want in a home?" Make a list of what you want and don't want. Search for homes online to get some ideas. Are you looking for a small home or a home where your family can grow?

Let's say you see a home in a realtor's guide or on a website and it really appeals to you: what's your next step? If it's within a reasonable driving distance, take a drive by the home and check out the neighborhood. If you see a lot of foreclosure signs in yards, it could be a sign that the area is declining in value.

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